As the world meets in Paris, in desperate need of sanity and unity, the tides of political madness seem to be rising everywhere.
Take Europe – an excellent piece by Rafael Behr in The Guardian:
As Le Pen rises Europe’s liberal dream is disappearing in front of our eyes
When Jean-Marie Le Pen made it into the second round of the 2002 French presidential election, part of the horror many voters felt was in seeing, in stark light, a face of the nation that had previously been in shadow. “It means people we know voted for the Front National,” a shaken friend and supporter of the Socialist candidate, Lionel Jospin, told me at the time. …
The near certainty that Le Pen’s daughter will be a presidential contender for 2017 is shocking in a different way, landing with the banal thud of grim inevitability. Marine Le Pen saunters through French politics emanating the sharp smell of professionally laundered fascism. She has distanced herself and her party from the brutish style of her father, jettisoning explicit racism, colonising the political space where his extreme position shades into mainstream respectability. After a triumphant showing in the first round of regional elections last weekend, the Front National claims to be France’s main opposition party.
But France is not an exception. A long malaise in continental liberal democracy is beginning to feel more like decline. …
Read on for a discussion of several example countries, grim but fascinating.
And, of course, America:
Donald Trump is an actual fascist: What his surging popularity says about the GOP base
The word “fascist” has been abused by the left over the years. But a look at Trump’s rhetoric shows scary parallels
In the political discussion of today, there always comes a risk of being discounted as a crackpot when using a word like “fascist” to describe a political opponent. The word, much like “socialist,” has been so abused since the fall of fascism that it lost its meaning quite some time ago. …
In a recent article by Jeffrey Tucker, however, it is argued, quite justly in my opinion, that Donald Trump, whether he knows it or not, is a fascist (or is at least acting like one). Much like Mussolini and Hitler, Trump is a demagogue dedicated to riling up the people (particularly conservatives) with race baiting, traditionalism and strongman tough talk — and, according to polls, it’s working — for now.
That was written way back in July, since then Trump’s dominance of the polls has increased significantly, and his hate-speech against Muslims has become unhinged: Utterly repellent and malignant: world reacts to Trump’s anti-Muslim tirade.
These are dark times for sanity. In closing I want to go back to the first piece (Behr) quoted above:
No two countries have exactly analogous politics, but common threads run across Europe. The unifying dynamic appears to be the interaction of financial insecurity and the cultural detachment of governing elites from the governed. From Paris to Warsaw, politicians of the technocratic centre are perceived as a caste apart, professionally complacent, insulated by hoarded privilege from the anxiety provoked in electorates by economic turbulence and abrupt demographic change. On to that canvas is then projected the spectre of terrorism, smuggled into the body politic by refugees from predominantly Muslim countries.
What makes this resurgent nationalism so hard to defuse is the panache with which it sports the robes of popular democracy – as indeed nationalism has always done.
I’m not suggesting that NZ is there yet. But there are echoes.